Denis Finnegan, a 10-time national track and field champion in Ireland, has come out as gay. Finnegan, who is based now in Melbourne, opened up about his sexual orientation on the podcast Five Rings To Rule Them All hosted by Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler.
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Finnegan, who won his 10 national titles in the triple jump, said that adding his name to the list of those who are out in Ireland was an important part of coming out for him and that he hopes his being out in sport will help provide a role model for younger athletes.
Finnegan said “it will hopefully give [younger people] more confidence in what they’re doing. There are still people who are scared or unsure of what’s happening, so I hope just telling my story might help one person notice there’s more acceptance out there.”
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Finnegan said that “hiding parts of himself sometimes dampened his enthusiasm for what he was doing: “I loved sport and my whole family was sporty. I’d want to be doing the sports, but there was a part of them I wasn’t enjoying at all.”
“Athletics was always a place that, because it was quite mixed, it was a place I could have gotten away from everything,” said Finnegan, but team sports didn’t agree with him. “I think those sports, because they were a team sport with males, there were times when it wasn’t comfortable. Athletics was always my favorite sport, it was always the sport that was the one that was the most open. I’d be training with girls, I’d be training with guys, and I think that did help a bit. I was never worried about any kind of comments on the track. But when I was going for, say, football, it was more of an issue.”
He also shared a quote from Theodore Roosevelt when asked if he wanted to add anything to the interview: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”